There's no question about whether Dustin Garneau represents the present or the future for the Colorado Rockies; the answer to both is "no." Odds are that veteran Nick Hundley retains his starting job to begin 2016, and beyond that the entire Rockies' realm has every reason to be excited for prospect Tom Murphy.
But that doesn't mean there's not a place for Dustin Garneau in Denver, especially now the Rockies are a catcher down since Michael McKenry has declared free agency. And it certainly doesn't mean Garneau's patience and perseverance should be overlooked, even as focus turns to Murphy. He may never play a significant role with the Rockies (barring the unforeseen injury or other issue), but Dustin Garneau did beat the odds in 2015 to put himself on the big league radar, for however brief a time.
Garneau finally breaks through
After being chosen in the 19th round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Rockies, Garneau played seven seasons in the minor leagues before getting the call. He racked up 2,080 plate appearances in 518 games across the country: Casper, Wyoming; Pasco, Washington; Modesto, California; Asheville, North Carolina; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Scottsdale, Arizona; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and -- because why the hell not -- La Romana, Dominican Republic.
Garneau's story isn't unique, of course; many late-round draft picks make the rounds, come up for a cup of coffee late in their careers (in his case, as a 28-year-old), and hope to hang around.
Garneau's cup of coffee in 2015 wasn't anything special, either. He only slashed .157/.224/.286 in 76 plate appearances (11-for-70), but he did hit three doubles and two home runs. He finished the year going just 2-for-22 in his last seven games, but in the six games preceding that, the catcher was 6-for-22 with a double, both of his home runs, and all eight of his RBIs. Small sample size streakiness!
2016 and beyond
Obviously, Garneau's future isn't bright, and whatever is part of his future is entirely based on Murphy and Hundley. There's virtually no chance Garneau will begin 2016 in Denver, instead stuck down the depth chart in Triple-A Albuquerque alongside Ryan Casteel. He's also potentially a candidate to be designated for assignment this winter, if the Rockies need the spot and decide that a 28-year-old light-hitting rookie catcher can be jettisoned from the roster.
But it is cool that he made the Major Leagues after being taken with the 571st pick of a draft that happened more than six years ago. Only three men from that draft round reached the bigs; in fact, all three debuted in 2015 (Garneau, Travis Tartamella, and Ryan Tepera). Garneau may not get too many more chances in the big leagues, but he got there. That counts for something, right?
One other thing that counts: the Rockies were 10-9 in games Garneau started this season. The man just wins!